Science Review 2012 – Top 100 science stories: Nos 60-56

5 Dec 2012

Irish student Ronan Leahy, who made the top 15 global shortlist in the 2011 James Dyson Award for his invention 'MediMover'

We continue our countdown of Ireland’s top science and innovation stories of 2012. It was the year Dublin became the European City of Science and major scientific breakthroughs occurred in every field.

During four days in July, international scientists, policy-makers and business leaders, as well as the general public, converged on the Euroscience Open Forum in Dublin, the highlight in a year full of science and innovation events, such as Science Week, Nanoweek, and Engineers Week.

Most notable during 2012, however, is the impact young people in Ireland have been making in innovation. James Whelton’s CoderDojo movement has gone international, student Paddy Mulcahy won the Irish leg of the 2012 James Dyson award, Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle, this year’s overall winners at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, also scooped another top award at the EUCYS, and teenager Joanne O’Riordan, who has no limbs, gave a speech to global leaders at a United Nations conference for Girls in ICT Day on how technology has changed her life.

To celebrate a year that also included great research, discoveries and partnerships, has dedicated this month to the top 100 most popular science and innovation stories of 2012. Our countdown continues below.


60 – Neuroscientists may have found new gene that causes epileptic seizures

Neuroscientists from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) say they have found a new gene linked to epilepsy and they believe they could potentially provide a new treatment to prevent epileptic seizures.

Nature Medicine has published their paper. The scientists involved in the study included researchers from the department of physiology and medical physics and molecular and cellular therapeutics at the RCSI, along with clinicians at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, and experts in brain structure from the Cajal Institute in Madrid.

Dr Maria Hinfelaar

59 – IT heads propose Munster Technological University

The five institutes of technology (ITs) in Ireland’s border, midlands and west (BMW) region announced their plan to create a technological university in the BMW region. Then the heads of the ITs in Cork, Tralee and Limerick announced their plans to create a Munster Technological University (MTU), with the aim of strengthening the region’s educational prowess and enhancing links with local industry.

Since the publication of the Hunt Report (National Strategy for Higher Education) in January 2011, the presidents of Cork Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tralee and Limerick Institute of Technology have been working to set the MTU, which they say would have campuses in Cork, Clare, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary and an initial enrolment of more than 24,000 students.

Naymatullah Morshed

58 – Irish school kids to compete in LEGO robotics league

Up to 300 school kids between the ages of 9 and 16 descended upon Galway for the Irish finals of the First LEGO League. The robotics competition itself has gleaned the backing of such celebrities as, the frontman for the Black Eyed Peas, and singer/actress Miley Cyrus.

Bernard Kirk of Robotics Ireland, which manages the Irish segment of the global First LEGO League, said the students came from a mixture of after-school clubs and schools to build and programme robots.

Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle

57 – BT Young Scientist 2012 winners talk about their space project (video)

It was an energetic and celebratory affair at the RDS in Dublin when it was revealed that Mark Kelly and Eric Doyle had won the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition for 2012. To the sounds of Daft Punk’s One More Time and with colourful streamers and confetti radiating from the ceiling, the two winners, who study at Synge Street CBS in Dublin, jaunted to the stage.

There they were greeted by BT Ireland’s CEO Colm O’Neill with their trophy, while Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn, TD, also applauded Doyle and Kelly for their project ‘Simulation accuracy in the gravitational many-body problem’ that won the judges’ ultimate approval this year.

Ronan Leahy

56 – James Dyson Award calls out to young innovators

The 2012 James Dyson Award invited applications from inventive young designers and engineers, hailing from 18 countries, including Ireland. The brief? Develop a problem-solving invention.

The prize for the ultimate winner was stg£10,000 to develop his or her invention and an additional stg£10,000 for his or her university department.

Two international runners-up received stg£2,000 each, while national winners obtained £1,000 each. There are also nine national finalists from each country.